Bloomsbury Illustration Week: Derek Brazell meets illustrators Grand People

Bloomsbury Illustration Week

Today on Illustration Week: Derek Brazell meets the Grandpeople Collective for his research for Making Great Illustration. You can purchase this book and more in our on-going Illustration Week sale.

It’s Norway, summer 2010, and Bergen’s new tram system is just two weeks old, and I’m on my way to the Grandpeople Collective’s studio. Impressively, there’s an employee on the street handily explaining how to buy tickets (though he’s struggling a bit himself). The gleaming tram takes me smoothly from the old centre of the town with its wooden houses and cobbled streets over a wide bridge to the start of the suburbs where concrete and graffiti make the surroundings appear more typically Euro-town like.

Sketches for Carls Cars magazine typeface

The tram leaves me on the side of a four lane highway, and I wander around trying to find Grandpeople’s road. It’s a light industrial area, but curiously there’s a somewhat out of place shop selling traditional Norwegian dress just off the road. I’ve not seen anyone wearing this so far. Bit disappointingly, now I know there’s a special shop.

At the table. Photograph by Paul Duerinckx

Grandpeople’s studio is based in a large building along from some car garages, and is a light, spacious area divided by a wall of chests-of-drawers (for filing – ‘We’re bored of it now’ says Magnus) separating the work space from their recreational area (with table tennis – the guys are in a business table tennis league. ‘We want to win,’ smiles Christian).

We talk in an area recently turned into a wall sized blackboard used in a commission, discussing the handiness of having a printer next door and why illustration needs a critical eye assessing it.

I meet the whole Grandpeople team, but talk to original members, Magnus and Christian, who clearly both think carefully about context and background in terms of their work and the wider design world. We end up talking for ages about the illustration world before I leave them to find the tram stop back to the centre.

These guys have been my final interview for Making Great Illustration : a pretty exciting end to the research.

Derek Brazell is co-author of Understanding Illustration, Making Great Illustration and Becoming a Successful Illustrator, all with Jo Davies.  Jo and Derek are currently working on the second edition of Becoming a Successful Illustrator, which will publish in 2017.  Their website  has more information on all the books including additional material and blog posts.